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play dough : a sequel

play dough : a sequel
a poem by Julianne Tenorio

dear asian youth,

i opened the container

its vibrant, colorful lid distinguishing it from the rest of the set,

a brand new tub of dough waiting for someone to play with it.

i took a whiff and allowed its scent to fill the air.

it smelled familiar, nostalgic, distinct

almost as if i had smelled this before.

i pulled out the dough

a feeling of euphoria washed over me

i played with it for a while, rolling it in my hand, molding it, shaping it

then i smashed my hand onto the dough, flattening it out, leaving an imprint of a fist.

and just like that, i left it out on the table with chalky residue on my hands that i went to wash off.

so i moved on to the next toy

amused, occupied, just another way to keep me busy,

with not a thought about how the poor play dough was left to dry.

then i found it the next day

dry, cracked, unpliable,


i cried and i whined

“mommy i ruined the play dough!”

my small fingers yearned for something to entertain me

something to grasp to distract me.

so the next day i went to the toy store

to buy another container of play dough.

i came home

i opened the container.

inhaled its scent.

rolled it, molded it, shaped it.

again, i slammed my balled up hand against the dough, leaving behind yet another mark of my fist.

and though it was only yesterday, i still forgot to put it back into the container.

so finally i began to ask myself,

what am i doing wrong?

am i not doing enough?

after a little while, i, little julianne, realized that all this time,

i neglected my precious play dough.

and so i began to put my play dough back into the container.

every day, i was able to make my mark on the play dough, my signature smashed fist imprinting the dough right before i would put it back into the container.

it would no longer dry up.

it would no longer crack.

it would no longer become unplayable.

now, what if i simply replaced the words? added a thing or two here and there?

so, here it is, a more modern, more relevant, short sequel to my story:

i came home

and i opened my phone to look through social media

like i did yesterday, and basically everyday.

i scrolled and i scrolled

absorbed what i saw on my screen.

vibrant squares of information, horrific, heart-wrenching, videos of discrimination,

Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Mona Wang, and many more pasted onto my feed

i double-tapped, commented, swiped through,

until i pressed my thumb onto the word “post”, leaving fake marks on my story.

but like always, after i shared, i simply put my phone down, and walked


in this story, in this sequel,

the play dough is beyond cracked

beyond dried

beyond unpliable

beyond unplayable.

discontinued. discarded. destroyed.

disregarded in the fight for our lives, for our justice

left to rot in the depths of our boxes filled to the brim with toys.

and in this story, we simply wait.

rather than realizing what we have been doing wrong this whole time,

we wait.

we wait until our mothers bring us to the store

to find another container of play dough,

only for us to waste it again.

so how can we rewrite the outcome? change the storyline?

we remember to put the play dough back into the container.

and we continue to leave behind the mark of our fists

continue to leave behind the imprints of our impact

because unlike little julianne, we do not have time to neglect what we must preserve.

-julianne t

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